When it comes to rebuilding the eastern span of the Bay Bridge (price: $5.6 billion), there are three main agencies that need to sign off on changes. Today the directors of those agencies met to determine your commuting future.
At issue is the expected Labor Day weekend closure of the entire bridge.
Last Labor Day, the lower (eastbound) deck had to be closed for the same holiday weekend so workers could demolish part of the bridge’s western approach in San Francisco.
This will be the big one, however. You know when you’re going west into the big tunnel on Yerba Buena Island? Bridge engineers had thought that upper deck piece would be OK to simply retrofit in place while commuters gailey sped across it.
Recently the triumvirate of Caltrans Director Will Kempton, Metropolitan Transportation Executive Director Steve Heminger and California Transportation Commission Executive Director John Barna finalized a change in those plans, such that the piece will be replaced.
That means that for the first three days of September, BART will be the order of the day, the Golden Gate will be a very slow way to get to Berkeley and the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge will be Oakland’s lifeline to the peninsula.
The big three met today to decide on a closure schedule, and as of now I’ve not gotten any of my favorite transportation officials or spokespersons to spill the beans.
When I do get them, Question No. 1 will be, “Will three days be enough to tear down the upper deck and build a new deck? It seems kinda tight, don’t you think?”
And if the answer is no or maybe, Question No. 2 will be, “Won’t closing the entire Bay Bridge on a weekday, when kids are going to school and everyone’s commuting every which way, won’t that bring the Bay Area to its knees?”
I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, I’m embarrassed to say, but I do know this: If they do shut the bridge down on September 4, 5 or 6, it will put the Spare the Air program to shame. People who have never set foot on BART will be fumbling with the card-machines as the regular commuters fume behind them.
And, for one glorious day, the rail people and BART supporters will smirk and bus people will have nothing to say.
I don’t wish this fate on anyone, but speaking as a dispassionate member of the media, I can’t wait to see it.